Why do people have such a fascination with kayak fishing?
In the last few years, you, as well as others, may have noticed that kayak fishing is growing at a very fast pace. There are more and more people coming on board every day, either for the thrill of fighting a fish, or just enjoying the outdoors in a peaceful setting. Whatever floats your boat though, this sport is growing fast. Most people get into kayak fishing because it is cheap, economical, easy storage, and silent, to name a few reasons.
Cheap doesn’t begin to describe kayak fishing. If you look around, you can find a used kayak for less than $300 with a paddle and life jacket. This, compared to a $25,000 bass boat, is chump change. You can even get a brand new sit inside at big box retail stores for $200. That is unbeatable! You don’t have a payment every month on that big sparkley speedboat, or the $200 per day gas bills. Talk about economy! (If you haven’t yet, sell your bass boat. Take the $600-$800 per month you spend, and buy a kayak. The next month, rig it. After that, enjoy all the money you have left over!) When it comes to storing, you can fit most kayaks inside of a closet, or hung upside down in a hallway or garage. If you have rigging or accessories to store, then keep the kayak upright, and hoist it to the ceiling.
Silence and stealth are one of the main reasons that I chose kayak fishing as one of my favorite hobbies. Fishermen, bass fishermen especially, have been targeting fish with lures since at least 1949 when Mr. Creme released the plastic worm. Face it folks, that is 60 years of genetic conditioning. Fish just aren’t as aggressive as they were in 1949. (Or maybe I tell myself this. Hmm..) They have grown, from generation to generation, to become smarter than your average sunfish. Redfish and other sought after saltwater species are already attuned to noises, especially boat noises. Since these are the two most highly sought after species, kayak fishing falls perfectly into line with stalking them.
In a typical bass boat, people are talking, dropping rods, taking steps around the boat, or just generally making noise. What people don’t realize, is that this noise is amplified through the empty space in the hull, and transmitted down into the water. Fish may not hear this sound, but the lateral line allows them to feel changes in frequencies through the water. In other words, fish feel every bit of this action, and it turns them off. When they feel something, and can’t figure it out, they don’t eat. Think about yourself for a second. If you are nervous, are you hungry? What about when you figure out what is making you nervous, and it either goes away, or you fix it. I bet you’re hungrier then, right? That is why so many people pick up kayak fishing, because there is nothing to bang around on the boat, and you can literally glide over the top of fish. I have been in the creek on more than one occasion, and could have grabbed stripers rolling right within my hands reach, off the side of my boat. While still paddling, this is amazing.
Why more and more fishing kayaks are being bought each day.
Now, more than ever, people are buying a lot more fishing kayaks. They have finally come to realize that the big 70+mph bass boats, and 45+mph flats skiffs are not necessary to catch fish. More times than not, you catch less fish on a boat than you do out of fishing kayaks. You can sneak back into any area, and tear it apart. When was the last time your bass boat was in the sticks on the south end of the lake? We used to get out of our boat, and wade along the shoreline, hunting for spawning females. Now, with fishing kayaks, you are able to spot the bed from a better distance, and creep up onto it. People finally see that kayaks are stealthy, and this is helping their sales, guaranteed.
Another reason people are picking up more fishing kayaks, now than ever, is the storage. You can’t store a bass boat easily, or a 14-16ft skiff for that matter. You can easily get 3-4 kayaks up on the wall, mounted, to be able to take the entire family out with you. Or just have different fishing setups, for different waters. (Me!) Kayaks also force fishermen to take only what is required for the day out on the water. I was able to sell off 3/4’s of my tackle, and enjoy a vacation to Bimini with the profits. Not bad, ‘eh? I even catch more fish now too!
You don’t have to gas up fishing kayaks. You don’t stink like gasoline, and you don’t have to deal with the bill. It is very expensive running decent sized boats these days, and when gas prices were up to $4.50 a gallon and higher, it was rediculous. It was impossible to take your boat out for the day. The trolling motor would die, and even that, cost an arm and a leg to charge the battery on. Times are tough these days, and people realize that you can get into fishing kayaks for very little money. They also hold their value, and are easily sold if you need to.
What you should look for when purchasing your first fishing kayak.
This is where a lot of people tend to get confused when they start looking for that first fishing kayak. I say first, because remember, this is your first boat. It is not your last boat, I guarantee it. Start with a cheaper fishing kayak, I prefer used boats myself. The cheaper, the better. You are probably only going to own this boat for 6 months tops. You will be able to sell it again for a little less than what you paid for it, or if you bought extremely used, maybe make a profit. Back to the point though, your first fishing kayak should be cheap. Lets discuss sit on top vs sit inside kayaks.
The sit-on-top fishing kayak is the most sought after breed of kayaks. These things are, in my opinion, streamlined barges. They are wide, usually 32″ or so. This provides excellent stability, with most of them allowing you to hang your legs over the side of the kayak while fishing. I call them barges, because you can carry everything, including the kitchen sink on a sit on top fishing kayak. The flat surfaces provide endless rigging options, you can mount whatever you want, wherever you want it. Most also have a recess in the aft (rear) of the boat, that is a perfect fit for milk crates or coolers. We’ll discuss milk crate setups later, stay tuned. These boats, like I said earlier, are highly sought after. This also means, that finding one used can be an issue. Finding one cheap, and used, is almost impossible. You will have a sit on top one day though, I promise. Until then though, set your eyes on the real prize: a fishing kayak you can use now!
That brings me to the topic of the sit inside fishing kayak. These things are decent little boats, that get discredited quite often. I am not afraid to use them, for my ego fears me. Or something like that. They are perfect in cold weather, because you are sheltered from the wind, and with a skirt, you are also protected from the water. If you go using hacksaws to your sit inside fishing kayak like I will show you how to do, it is not suited for cold water. If you roll this thing, you will be in some trouble! It will bail quick though! Rambling, sorry.. back to the point. The sit inside boats allow you to store sufficient gear, as long as it can be kept below deck. There are ample mounting options, though most aren’t as sturdy as you would find on a sit on top. The sit inside variety provides a lower center of gravity though, and this helps with your hooksets.
Besides, you can pick up a brand new sit inside for $200, rig it the same way you would a sit on top, and be on the water just as long, or longer than other fisherguys (and gals!). The cheaper models aren’t near as comfortable as the nicer sit on tops, but for the price ($300 total, paddle and vest included), you can get on the water. Once you are out, you can rig and modify the boat to fit your needs. Just remember that this isn’t going to be your last boat.
How to set up your kayak rigging the proper way, to ensure maximum safety on the water.
A few things that you must consider when you are setting up your kayak rigging, are safety, comfort, safety, and reach. Did I mention safety? Lets go into this one first. When you are setting up your new kayak, (probably a sit inside, right?) you don’t want to have your safety gear out of reach. I am specifically talking about a 360 degree light (for night fishing), a loud, loud whistle, and a bright orange and silver metallic flag. These items must be in reach. Though not required by the Coast Guard, other boaters just don’t care about you, your family, or your little kayak out on the water. Jet skiers have almost made it into this territory, with more and more getting dangerously close to kayakers. While kayak fishermen shouldn’t be fishing in these areas anyways, you do have to cross bays, harbors, rivers, and active creeks from time to time. (Some people carry a surf rod with a 3oz or 4oz lead surf weight… Like a bullet flying across the bow of the little jet ski. He got in your area though, remember!) Some day, we will get respect, probably when they are trying to fish with us, in their shiny new $2500 Hobie Pro Angler fishing kayboat.
The next thing to consider when you are thinking about your fishing kayak rigging, is the comfort. For this, you are going to probably only need one trip out on the water to figure out what needs to be done. If you are able to afford a higher priced kayak, you may not need to modify the comfort at all, instead spending time on rigging. For those like myself though, a $200 kayak is not very comfortable, and will probably leave you sore the first day. This is ok, though. Take a week off, and figure out what to change. Then check out the store, and get what you need to fix it. I usually put padding around any rough plastic edges, and add some padding where my arms, and the padde rest.
After safety, comfort, and safety, comes the actual kayak rigging. You don’t want to have anything out of reach, as moving around out on the water isn’t really easy. It can be done though. Most of the time, I will put the rod holders directly behind me, and I prefer the post mounted ones. There are cheaper flush mounts, that do the job, I just feel I am going to lose a rod while I am trolling. An anchor trolley can be setup on the side of the boat, to help you position it while you are fishing. Storage for tackle usually consists of smaller plano tackle cases, thrown inside the boat, or inside a milk crate setup.
A few kayak modifications that will make your day on the water more comfortable.
If you went the cheaper route, and got the $200 boat that I have been telling you about, there are a few kayak modifications that I believe are necessary, to make your day a little more comfortable. On these cheaper kayaks, any rough edges need to have some padding on them. I spent the first day on this sit inside, and my knees and calves were rubbed almost raw, and my elbows were banged up pretty nice. This wasn’t good. It was easily fixed with some A/C line insulation from the Depot, for around $4.
One other thing I did add to the list of necessary kayak modifications was to take a hacksaw to the fore (front) and aft (rear) of the boat. On these cheaper sit in kayaks, there is just no room for storage, and most of the time, the seat is molded into the rear deck. This means that, anything that makes its way behind the seat, stays there. Not anymore, I tore it apart. Cutting a hole into the front and rear decks of the kayak opened up a lot of area to be utilized. It didn’t effect the kayaks structure at all, and increased fishability more than I can forsee.
The last on the list of kayak modifications, would have to be an anchor trolley. These things are such a dream to have, and are made of parts available at any store. They help you control the direction of the boat, into the wind or current. If you move it to the front of the boat, you will be facing the current, or wind. Move it to the back of the boat, and you will be facing down the current, or have the wind to your back. It is a pretty simple concept really, putting an anchor on a loop, allowing you to pull it to the front or back of the kayak. I will teach you how to build a basic one later, so I hope I didn’t confuse you too much. I will clear it up in a later post, or even a video. Never know.
Some kayak fishing tips, may help you boat the big one.
When I was talking about anchor trolleys, this also helps when setting the hook on a fish. If you have your kayak facing sideways, with the fish at your side, think about how much pressure you can really put on the fish. When you set the hook, all of the energy travels through, sideways, and dies. If you have your kayak facing the target, when you set the hook, the energy travels lengthwise down the boat, and you can feel the power in it. It is an entirely different feeling, than having your kayak positioned improperly. These aren’t big boats, remember. You aren’t standing on a platform, putting all your might into ripping the fishes lips off.
Since you aren’t able to set the hook with the power you can muster on a big boat, I strongly suggest you use sharp hooks, and use a couple a day (for your longer trips). If the hook doesn’t stick into your skin with ease, change it. Fish have strong skin, especially the mouths of tough redfish. Bass have a very thick bone structure that makes up their lips, so you often have to have a wider gap, extremely sharp hook to get through. The sharp hooks also create a smaller entry point. By having a smaller entry hole, it means that the barb on the hook is going to hold, because you didn’t rip a big hole around the hook. This is why fish are able to throw the hook 99% of the time when bass fishing. Either this, or too heavy of a weight. That is for another day, however.
The last of the kayak fishing tips I can provide to you, is cover up. This mainly applies to daytime fishing, especially down here in the Florida sun. By this, I mean put a pair of pants on, usually khaki colored, and a lighter blue long sleeve shirt. You will sweat, but I guarantee that you will be more comfortable like this, than getting eaten by bugs, or having cancer build from being exposed too long. The next part of the get-up is the hat, with the drop down neck cover. Yes, you are starting to look like a yuppie, but what is more important? Looks, or comfort … and your life?
Wow, this post got epic pretty quick. I hope I can help at least one of you with something in it. Remember, when you are out on the water, always have your safety gear. This includes clothing. Never get caught without it, you never know when you will get caught. Remember, tight lines, from Kayak Fishing Edge.